Let the Merrymaking Begin

The kids finished school with a half day on Thursday, and as a teacher I finished yesterday (Friday) afternoon. Now that we are no longer distracted with work and school…we are able to really get into the spirit of our first Yuletide at Green Grove.

We begin our celebration today with the traditional Yule, focusing on the return of the sun as lengthening days make us begin to think of spring…and the gardens…seed catalogues began arriving yesterday. Then we go all out for a traditional Christmas with everything from stockings hung, the amazing story of the baby born in a manger, and all the traditional hymns & carols, not to mention Grandma’s white fruitcake and plum pudding. We are having an open house the weekend between Christmas and New Years to share our blessings and welcome friends of longstanding as well as those we’ve recently met.

We will keep the lights and candles burning until at least Epiphany…sometimes until Candlemas/Imbolc arrives. For New Years, we typically stay home and play cards and board games and toast the year in with some champagne, then burn a bayberry candle for health, wealth, and abundance and of course eat a big pork dinner on New Year’s Day. Yes,  we love these midwinter excuses to celebrate and milk them for all we can.

We’ve nearly finished decorating the outside of the house. Today we will add the wreathes to the doors and a few finishing touches to the gates and deck. Oh yes, we need to finish making luminaries for the walk and deck rail too. There is plenty of baking to be done as well. We will cut our tree on Christmas Eve morning and decorate it that evening.

I’m thinking a photo journal type post may come later in the week if my photographer (aka husband) can keep up with me.

We are underway with wrapping gifts, The Dancer has really come into her own as a gift wrapper. She even did a neighbor’s for pay. So far she hasn’t presented me with a bill…perhaps the spirit of the season will prevail. I want to garland the chandeliers with pine and crows foot.

There appears to be a holly shortage, no florists in the region can get much, and what they have, they aren’t selling.  I am thinking I may use the barberries that are abundant in the woods to add some red. Orange and apple slices are drying in the dehydrator as they are one of my favorite natural decorating accents.

I have been looking at holly varieties for planting come spring as I can hardly bear the thought of a holly-less Yule/Christmas. If any of you have favorite varieties that do well in WV I’m happy to take any and all suggestions into consideration.

I’m also looking forward to some days to read and knit by the fire, I have a huge stack of books and magazines to catch up with. I have the fabric to make new curtains for our bedroom….perhaps this break or perhaps I will hold out in hope of a snow day or two in January or February.

Then there’s also some time left in doe season….so there will be hunting and of course there are some other small game and predators that are in season. In fact my middle son, The Hunter, is heading out early today which id why I’m typing this at 5 am his ride is to be here any minute. I’ve learned that they actually make winter camo … for in the snowy woods.

The Weaver is demoing his craft at a the Lost River Trading Post today. He’s completed his orders for Dec 25th but has a few that are due in early January to finish up. Had you known him a few years ago you would understand how exciting it is that he has remained focused and diligent in building his Backwoods Weaving business. We are cautiously optimistic that he’ll actually turn a profit next year.

And so as we commence our celebrations and carry on old traditions and form new ones, we continue to love, live, and grow here at Green Grove.

I leave you with these words of Ralph Blane:

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.”

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Another Snowy Weekend

We had another 3-4 inches of snow Saturday. I was thinking that if it keeps snowing every weekend, it’s going to be hard to get my holiday shopping finished. Guess what? It wasn’t hard at all. I finished online. Everything was guaranteed for delivery by Dec 20th, and nearly everything had free shipping.

That’s right, no crowded stores, no slushy parking lots, a cuppa and cookie that didn’t cost $6.00, and was far tastier than anything at the mall. Beautiful views out every window, a crackling fire….life is good….very, very good.

We finally “mailed” our letters to Santa last weekend. At our house that means after writing them, we read them aloud and then toss them onto the roaring fire where the sparks and ashes whoosh up the chimney and are magickally transported directly to Santa at the North Pole and even more magickally reassembled for the elves reading pleasure. The reading out loud part is very important as there is power in the spoken word. (Not to mention it helps with getting the shopping list finalized)

After shopping I mixed up more cookie doughs for baking through the week ahead.  I noticed something kind of neat, nearly all my holiday recipes start with butter. I mean, what won’t taste good if you begin with a stick, or two, or for a few things, a pound of butter.

In addition to lots more baking, I still need to finish greening outside the house. Next weekend will be when I do the inside. Since I use real greens and I like them to last until Epiphany….or longer, I do the inside last.

When the children were little, I always waited until after they were in bed Christmas Eve. What fun it was for them to hang their stockings in a bare house, and then see the surprise, wonder and awe when they woke up ant there it all was.  Now we do the tree together, usually once school is out for the holiday.

We also finally got our cards printed and about 2/3 of them are addressed and ready to mail.  We’ll hopefully get the rest ready to go out by Monday.

Snow Days

Last week was one if those weeks that just seemed to drag on endlessly. Nothing major went wrong, but not much went right either. I was exhausted, mentally and emotionally by Friday night.

Then Saturday flew by as it was our last day of deer season and the hunter and my husband and I went out early.  While none of us saw any deer, the woods worked their magick and I came in physically exhausted, yet mentally and emotionally refreshed. My husband and I made a trip to get gas in my car and pick up a few groceries as Sunday into Monday promised wintery weather.

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Sure enough, we woke to about two inches of snow and as Sunday passed it grew to near 6 inches. The hunter, the dancer, the dog and I took a walk in the winter wonderland and made snow angels in the road….because we could. Then by late afternoon it changed to wintry mix and some rain. I was hoping for a three day weekend and sure enough the call came while we were eating dinner.

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Monday was warmer and by noon the road was clear and much of the mess had melted off. We were really fortunate, we lost power for just a few hours during the morning. We brought in water from the creek for flushing and had plenty of wood to keep the fires burning so it wasn’t a problem.

After lunch, the men all went into town for haircuts and the dancer and I did some baking and holiday decorating. When the guys came home they asked if I’d seen the forecast, so I pulled it up online and there was a winter storm advisory for Tuesday morning until late afternoon.  So we went to bed hoping that maybe our magickal 3 day weekend would become a magickal 4 day weekend.

imageMonday @ a few minutes after 5 am the call came in that schools were on 2 hour delay, and about an hour and a half later the second call came saying schools would be closed. I snuggled down and watched the snow piling up outside our bedroom window and after lying in ’til almost nine, this is what I saw from my kitchen window when I went upstairs.

 

We we had a great day, did some serious tidying, sorting, and culling and put up hooks for snow clothes….when you begin living a new season you realize what’s needed to make life work in a new home. We spent some time wandering around taking photos, baked some more Christmas treats, the kids shoveled the walkways and what our neighbors plow left behind when he cleared the driveway. What a beautiful gift this unexpected  break was.

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Being Thank-Full

There is so much to be thankful for this year: Living at Green Grove, here in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me. Being close enough to join my 91 year old mother and siblings and assorted nieces, nephews and spouses for dinner  is a blessing. That at 91 Mom is excited about having 14 around her table and can still make her famous dressing balls, is pretty wonderful.

Being able to hunt daily all week long has been great. Whether any of us get a deer or not, just being out in the woods with the skiff of snow, seeing the sun rise, listening to the quiet,which I’m learning isn’t quiet at all, for it includes the tenacious oak leaves rustling as the breeze tries to separate them from their branches, the woodpeckers rat-a-tatting, the many song birds greeting the dawn, the squirrels barking a warning….darned mouthy buggers…the beating of my own heart after climbing to the ridge, my sigh as I see the view once I’m there. Then once fingers are aching with the cold trudging back through the forest and finally seeing the blaze orange of my husband or son and the whispered greetings as they join in the trudge back to the truck. Seeing our cabin home as we drive back down, waiting with a warmth and welcome more encompassing than anywhere I’ve ever lived.

Spending time with just the hunter, as the middle child we’ve rarely had him to ourselves for such an extended time, and we are finding that he is really a wonderful young adult. We’ve had deep philosophical conversations, a lot of silly talk and laughing at online funnies, as well as watching some movies of his choice.

We’ve eaten so much good food and on Saturday we went to PA and picked up the dancer and the weaver.  It was good to hear that they had a good visit with their Dad and his family, and it is really, really good to have them home with us.

Today was spent cooking one more turkey dinner so we can have leftovers at our house. The kids have made their need for turkey hash quite clear.

As I turn in tonight, remembering the magick of this week, in this place will soften the harshness of returning to the stressors of work tomorrow. I find that I am truly thank-full.